For a terrifically spooky Halloween treat – and to support a great community cause at the same time – check out Chad and Jarita Carlson’s ‘haunted house’ experience.
The couple, who lives at #54 – Erica Drive here in Lacombe, enjoy transforming their yard and garage into a creepy house packed full of sites and sounds certain to give visitors some Halloween chills – all in good fun, of course. It’s free to drop by, but they ask you bring along a donation for the Lacombe Food Bank.
The house will be open Oct. 28th, 29th, 30th and the 31st. Hours are from 6 to 9 p.m.
It’s particularly a passion of Chad’s. The couple moved to Lacombe last year from Stony Plain, and that’s really where the tradition was sparked.
“I started building my own Halloween costumes at a fairly early age,” he explained. “That was always something that I looked forward to, along with my birthday which is also in October,” he added with a laugh. “They kind of went hand in hand for quite a good portion of my life.”
Eventually, Chad studied stage production, directing and acting which showcased his creative side, but he eventually opted for a career in the trades.
“I kind of got away from the performing arts thing. But I would say that quite a few years ago, after getting established in the health and safety field, that I opened up my own production company, and I was doing stage productions at the Edmonton Fringe and some of the one-act festivals in the Edmonton area.
“And then the Halloween thing pretty much started when I bought my house in Stony Plain back in 2010. Before that I had a condo, so I couldn’t really decorate that much.”
But with a house, a whole new world of possibilities was sparked.
“Once I had the house it started with a couple of things in the yard.”
The first year, he put a head on his barbecue rotisserie and that even caused quite the stir in the local media.
“They thought it was a little bit much for the front cover,” he laughed. But that particular season encouraged him to continue to go further with the Halloween decorating concept.
In 2011 and 2012, displays were done in the garage. In 2013, he decided to go all out and develop a haunted walk-through.
The space in the garage made this possible, and it proved a huge success with folks in the community.
Hundreds showed up to check it out and all the while, donations for the food bank there were collected as well.
Last year marked the first year for establishing the haunted house in Lacombe.
“The inside and outside generally takes about two weeks to do in early October, and that’s about two hours a night,” he explained of the preparation. “And a good solid couple of days on the weekend.”
All that work and attention to detail certainly pays off.
Even in broad daylight with all the lights on, there are plenty of ghoulish, spooky sites to behold as one makes their way through the garage.
“It’s one of the things that I look forward to,” he said of the overall venture. “In Stony Plain, the first year I had 150 people come by and from then on, it was 300 the year after that and then we were getting 600.
“The first year in Lacombe, we had a surprising show for the first year – over four nights, we had at least 150 every night.
“On Halloween night, we probably had around 300 kids, too.”
Folks here in Lacombe have been very generous with the food donations as well, he said.
‘There was a full pick-up truck of food.”
For the Carlsons, the occasion is not just fun because of the decorating but also because of how the community comes together.
“There are a couple of things that really motivate me – one is the whole community aspect of it. I find there’s a lot of neighbours that come and visit, and we have coffee and hot chocolate out here. So lots of people come out and visit, and a lot of family and friends over the years have come out to help, too. It’s also a get-together in that sense, too.
“We also get to help give back to the community which is excellent. There’s a lot of time and resources that go into this, so it’s our little way of giving back to the community.
“The other big thing is that I don’t necessarily have the time to put on stage productions anymore, so this is basically for me the telling of a story.
“It’s kind of a ‘set’ piece; like a stage show. This year, it’s a haunted manor, and we’re trying to make it more of a story as you are going through.
“There’s all kinds of things that are positive about the whole event itself.”